Dear Diane Column — July 9, 2012

Dear Diane, 

I’m about to travel to Arizona to see my ex-husband for the first time in almost a decade.  We had a very difficult divorce, and there were accusations on both sides.  I said some pretty bad things at the time, and I later found out that some of the things I accused him of were not true. We have started to talk again, and I really have missed our relationship so much

When I believed that he was cheating on me, I slept with a neighbor as a way to get back at him. He found out about it and stood up in our church and announced it to everyone.  I felt ashamed for a long time after that, but I’ve quit drinking, and my ex says that he has been sober for over a year.

He wants to see me and says that he still loves me. We have both worked a 12 step program, but not with each other. I’m afraid to go into all the things I’ve done wrong in the past, but that is part of my program. I am afraid that if I tell him about some things I’ve said and done, it will ruin our chances of being together again. If he did things in the past to our marriage, part of me wants to know the truth, but part of me is afraid.  I still love this man, but I’m torn about whether we should be together in the future. We both came up in abusive families, so we understand each other. I miss my friend, but I don’t want to be hurt. What should I do?

Confused

Dear Confused.

You mentioned that you missed your FRIEND, and friendship is just the relationship for you to have with this man right now. While part of you may wish for more, I pick up that each of you is still fighting hard to keep your sobriety.

You mentioned that part of your program was to  ask forgiveness for actions which occurred in the past. You and your ex need to stay at a distance for a while so that you can decide together how deeply you wish to discuss your digressions. You need to be completely honest about your actions, while respecting the process that your partner must go through . The most important thing for you both is to continue to keep your sobriety, so make a point to follow your program and discuss these decisions with your sponsors.

Being a friend to your ex means staying sober and helping him to do the same. I pick up that there will be some hurt feelings as the two of you release the past, but if you  can agree together to take this journey into truth and healing, I see enormous growth and joy for you both.

Healing still needs to be done here, so don’t rush into an intimate relationship. Only time will tell if that is meant to be. Take this one step at a time, and enjoy what good friends you can be to one another. Blessings!

Diane
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Dear Diane,

My best friend from college is back in town after a difficult divorce. When we went to school, we were a couple of wild women, and everyone on campus knew us.  Now that she’s back, she wants to hang out like “old times.” My husband is being really nice about it, and says that the three of us can go to dinner and clubs together, but I’m not sure how I feel about that. “Angela” can probably still drink us under the table, while I’ve become rather sedate in my old age. I have two kids to watch out for, so dinner is about all I can handle.

I don’t want to sound like I’m overly concerned, but I don’t know if I even want her around my husband. When we were young we both had tons of boyfriends, but I’m happy with my marriage and don’t want to flirt with danger.

Even though I’ve changed a lot, I still love being around Angela. She’s really funny, very smart and she constantly reminds me of how talented and special she thinks I am.  Is it foolish to resume a friendship with her?

L.S.

Dear L.S, 

Old friends are one of the wonderful   benefits  of growing older.  By looking back at who we were, we can appreciate who we’ve become.  You’re lucky to have someone with whom to revisit the past, so take this opportunity for a trip down memory lane. Perhaps your friend needs to realize that time has passed, so   speak openly about how much evenings with your family mean to you. Make a special lunch date with her to talk about “how far our lives have come.”

While Angela has taken a different path in life, I see that she has also grown beyond the flighty girl that you remember.  Now is the time to get in touch with your present selves, and find out if there are common experiences for you to share. In the past you found great joy in being together, so  don’t be afraid to introduce her to some of your current passions. If you love tennis or garden club, bring her along and help her to make friends. An occasional lunch will give you time together without taking too much away from your family time.

As for your husband, there is little need to include him for now, but you can enlist his good will in finding an occasional date for your friend when she’s ready.  Being a friend to yourself is important, so feel  free to keep your home life separate for now.

In the future I see a different relationship for you and your friend, but I feel that this is a friendship that will stand the test of time. Good luck!

Diane
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Dear Diane,

I’m afraid I ruined the best relationship I ever had. My wife and I have loved each other since we were kids, but I messed up and had a relationship with someone else. I don’t even know why I did it, but now she says she never wants to see my face again. She filed for divorce, and while I’ve promised her it will never happen again, she won’t budge. I love her. Any advice?

Wayne

Dear Wayne, 

I know you are hurting, but you must think about this on a deeper level. You say that you have no idea why this happened, yet you promise your wife that it will never happen again. The only way to prevent this problem from creeping up again is by understanding yourself well enough to prevent it. Right now your wife has no reason to believe you, so it’s time to give her more than an apology.

While you may not like the idea of finding a therapist for yourself, it may be the only way to convince your wife that you are serious about changing. She is angry and distrustful of the man that you are now, so unless you attempt to change your thinking, your marriage is over.

On a positive note, I see that your wife still loves you.  She doesn’t trust her feelings for you, but in time it’s possible for her pain to heal. Find a therapist and stay focused on learning about yourself. It will take a few months for your wife to trust that you are serious, and much longer for her pain to heal. Keep moving forward and I see a happy outcome being possible. It’s up to you.

Diane

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